Aruba is one of our favorite islands in the Caribbean! We have visited the island multiple times on Caribbean Cruises. Today we are sharing our best things to do in Aruba on a cruise! Most of the time the cruise ship is only docked for a partial day in Aruba. You want to maximize your time on the island and make sure you are getting as much in as possible.
Best things to do in Aruba on a cruise!
I know that is probably not what you expected me to write but I am hooked on Starbucks chai tea. There are not many places to get Starbucks in the Caribbean so grabbing a tea in Aruba is always something I look forward to.
The Starbucks in Aruba is located at the Renaissance Mall. You can easily reach the store by foot from the cruise terminal.
Visit the beach
You can easily reach a local beach by taking the public bus across from the cruise terminal. It is a quick 5-10 minute ride to some of the most amazing beaches in the world. If you are worried about grabbing the bus for your return you can always flag down a local taxi. We normally visit Eagle Beach or Palm Beach when we are on the island.
De Palm Island Excursion
The nice thing about De Palm Island Excursion is you are on a private island. You can snorkel, enjoy some frosty beverages and the kids can play in the water park. The cruise excursion includes transportation to the island. You take a water taxi to the island and they make sure you are back on the ship at the right time. This is a great excursion for families. There is something on the island for all ages.
Take an island tour
There are tons of taxi's right outside the cruise terminal ready and available to drive you around the island and show off the highlights.
Shopping is a quick and easy walk from the cruise terminal. You can find everything from high-end fashion to local arts and crafts within a few minute's walk from the cruise ship.
Hard Rock Cafe
The actual cafe is located in the resort area of the island about 15-20 minutes from the cruise terminal. There is a Rock Shop right near the cruise terminal if you want to grab a t-shirt or Hard Rock Pin to take home with you.
Aruba is a really easy cruise port to explore. You can easily do this port on your own and just wander through the city. There are tropical beach type bars right in town where you can enjoy a frosty beverage or 2 and easily make it back to the ship.
Like most port terminals there is ample shopping everywhere you look.
We only had 5 hours to do as much as we possibly could in Aruba. We have been to Aruba before so we had an idea of the places we wanted to visit during our short time on the island.
Aruba has some of the most amazing beaches I have ever seen. The sand is super soft and feels fantastic between your toes. We knew we wanted to spend as much time as we could on the beach and soaking up the bathwater warm ocean. Here is how we filled a quick 5 hours in Aruba
What to do with 5 hours in Aruba on your Caribbean Cruise!
7 am – Disembark from the boat and head to the bus terminal
The bus terminal is right across the street from the cruise ship terminal. It is a super easy and fast walk to the bus terminal.
There are signs at the bus terminal showing which buses go to the beach. You can grab a local bus for $1.30 to Eagle or Palm Beach.
The bus takes US currency without a problem and can give you US currency change back. We have taken the bus a couple of times while in Aruba and it is always on time and super easy to ride.
Spend 2 hours soaking up the sun and water at the beach. The water is the warmest water we have ever been in.
It feels like you are soaking in a bathtub. If you want a cabana you can rent one from the local hotels.
This time they were $15 for a beach chair under the cabana. We chose to sit on the beach since we were only at the beach for a couple of hours. The sand is super fine and really soft. It is pure white and you just want to sink your feet into it
10 am Grab a bus back into town. The buses are either normal size or minivans. Don’t be surprised if a minivan pulls up a marked bus and the door swings open. The buses are pretty comfortable and get you back into town really fast.
Spend time shopping and checking out the markets
There is a wide variety of shops available. Everything from Louis Vuitton and Coach to local handicraft stalls. The shop keepers are very friendly and will tell you about their island. We picked up an Aruba license plate for $3.00 and a couple of small trinkets.
They have fantastic metal lizards that are brightly colored ranging from $7 to $50 depending on the size. One thing to note is the t-shirts are wrapped in plastic to keep them safe from rain. The shopkeepers prefer that they stay wrapped and will ask you to not open them.
There is a Starbucks inside the Renaissance Hotel. They have a nice sitting area and make a really nice frappucino. It is so warm that the frappucino’s do not last long. This is one of our favorite stops while we are in Aruba. You can pick up an Aruba Starbucks mug and enjoy a taste of home.
11 am. Grab a frozen cocktail or cold drink
It is hot and muggy in Aruba by 11 am. We were so happy to find the Mojito Bar and grill open at 11 am. We enjoyed a frosty frozen concoction and looked out over the bay. We picked up a bucket of beers (pre-warning they are 7oz beers and smaller than John’s hand) and chips and salsa for $20.
The bartenders were really friendly and fun to talk with. The view from the bar is fantastic. You can see out over the water and the main shopping district. I asked the bartender to surprise me with a frosty drink. He made up a couple of super amazing frozen drinks. I am honestly not sure what they were but they were cold and tasted amazing.
There is a small shopping center inside the Aruba port terminal. There are maybe 10-15 small stores in the cruise terminal. You can find Aruba aloe, trinkets, liquor, and local handicrafts. There is an internet café area and an information desk in the terminal. We walked in and out of the terminal with a bit of shopping in less than 20 minutes.
Aruba is one of our favorite Caribbean islands. The locals are very friendly!! We have had amazing conversations about the island, culture, and life on the island with the locals we have met. This is an island that I feel very comfortable traveling on. We have been able to head out on our own each time we visit the island and have a truly fantastic time.
Are you planning a cruise vacation? Check out our other cruise travel posts and let us know if you have any questions about cruising.
One of the best parts of cruising to Aruba is how close the ship docks to town. It is a really easy walk from the ship to shopping, the beach bus, and great restaurants.
Additional Aruba Resources
Aruba De Palm Island Excursion
Check out these other great Caribbean Cruise Posts:
Things to do in St. Maarten on a Caribbean Cruise
1st-time cruise questions answered
Amber Cove, Dominican Republic
Check out all of our Caribbean Cruise Travel Guides
I've never been to Aruba but I have always wanted to. When I was growing up, I recall seeing tourism commercials for traveling there that piqued my curiosity.
OMG I LOVE Aruba! Still my all time favorite vacation!
There is just something about the island of Aruba. We want to go back so badly
I have never traveled outside of the United States but Aruba is on of the 10 places that I would like to visit! Thanks for Sharing. I am going to pin this to my travel board. And Starbucks is a great start coffee is always #1 on my list! #blogbig
Robin (Masshole Mommy)
Going to Aruba is on my bucket list of life. It sounds like paradise 🙂
I have never been anywhere tropical or on a cruise.That beach looks absolutely gorgeous!
Wow the place is Awesome. It's very good place to spend time with your love ones.
Thanks for this superb tips.
Beautiful photos! I have heard a lot of great things about Aruba. I would definitely visit that market when I get the chance to visit.
Excellent post Tammilee! I love reading about others' experiences with traveling and you included some great tips/suggestions. Thanks!
Your pictures are gorgeous and would make anyone want to take a trip to Aruba. The De Palm Excursion sounds right up my alley. With shopping and beach, this place looks a lot like paradise.